Toughening your Lawn Grass for Hot & Dry Conditions
Climatologists predict that many areas of South Africa will increasingly experience higher-than-normal temperatures and less rainfall. Should this prove to be the reality, then the gardener needs to maintain the lawn grass to best withstand these extreme conditions. Below are some guidelines which might be gainfully used to strengthen your lawn and keep that perfectly landscaped look all year round.
Guidelines for Mowing
(1) Raise your mower's cutting height to 50mm during the hot months. Longer grass will encourage deeper roots and also shade the roots better, thereby preventing their scorching;
(2) Mow frequently enough so that you never remove more than one third of the grass blade. This will encourage deeper penetration of the roots, which promotes your lawn's health;
(3) Ensure that your mower blades are kept sharp so as to cut the grass blades cleanly (rather than jaggedly);
(4) Water your lawn infrequently but deeply (to encourage deeper roots), rather than frequently and shallowly;
(5) Only water those areas of the lawn which take most traffic, or need to look appealing e.g. around your patio or entrance;
(6) When the hot conditions begin to subside, still water deeply but less frequently and gradually lower your mower's cutting height;
(7) Delay spraying herbides for weeds until your entire lawn has returned to full health.
(1) At least 30 days prior to the expected onset of hot dry conditions, reduce the application of fertilisers and herbicides. The former prevents a flush of new growth which would be damaged by hot dry conditions and the latter ensures that the lawn grass is not stressed by the herbicide under such conditions.
(2) Should your soil be deficient in either phosphorus (P) or potassium (K) then application of this nutrient at the appropriate time would be beneficial to the lawn.
(3) Remember that in some countries Kikuyu lawn grass (Pennisetum clandestinum) is classified as a weed due to its rampant growth habit, and it is also a "waterholic". In hot dry summer areas rather plant Buffalo lawn grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) which is "waterwise". Kikuyu will need 30mm of water every several days, while Buffalo only needs to be watered about every two to three weeks.